North Carolina State University LIVE is thrilled to have co-commissioned David Roussève/REALITY’s latest work, Halfway to Dawn, a jubilant dance-theater piece that celebrates all facets of the influential jazz composer Billy Strayhorn’s rich and complicated life. Weaving dance, video, and Strayhorn’s masterful music, the project celebrates Strayhorn while creating conversations around race, sexuality, and the danger of placing the quest for fame ahead of personal freedom.

After putting final touches on Halfway to Dawn at NC State LIVE in the fall, the company returns to Raleigh February 25 – March 2, 2019 for a week of community events and the North Carolina premiere. The week includes multiple opportunities for North Carolina State students to engage with this world class company – through class visits, dance classes, guest lectures, and more. Equally important to NC State LIVE and David Roussève, is that the greater Triangle community can experience impactful programming related to Strayhorn, who spent much of his childhood in Hillsborough, NC.

Check out our February and March calendar for more information on the great events associated with this full week of Billy Strayhorn’s personal history and musical legacy.

For the 3rd straight year, The Billy Strayhorn Foundation has given a financial assistance award to a deserving organization in the host city for the Jazz Education Network conference (JEN). With the conference being in Reno, Nevada this year. the music institution selected was the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Established in 2006, the RYJO mission is to assemble by audition, the top middle and high school jazz talent in the Reno-Sparks-Carson and Tahoe communities in order to provide opportunities for the performance, preservation, appreciation and study of JAZZ.

The RYJO is led by 3 very dedicated Directors, co founders Vernon and Karen Scarbrough, along with Director of combos, Doug Coomler. RYJO has also recently released a CD called DECADE highlighting the playing of their 2016 members.

We wish RYJO students and staff continued success with their music program and wonderful mission.

Pictured above; Strayhorn Jazz Education Coordinator Galen Demus with student members and staff of the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc. and the Billy Strayhorn Foundation participated in the 2019 Jazz Education Network conference (JEN) held this year in Reno, Nevada. The Jazz Education Network is dedicated to building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performances and developing audiences.

The Billy Strayhorn booth provided information on the musical legacy of Billy Strayhorn, handout information about the recent archive acquisition by the Library of Congress, and conducted a raffle giveaway for the Strayhorn books “Lush Life” and “Strayhorn; An Illustrated Life.”

Lots of friends, visitors and Strayhorn admirers came by the booth to talk and just take in all things Strayhorn. Mark your calendar to be at next years conference in New Orleans !

Selected by Pittsburgh Magazine, these are the people who, throughout the past 200-plus years, helped put Pittsburgh on the map. These 50 made contributions both locally and nationally to fields ranging from business and government to culture and sports –– all of which put the spotlight on Pittsburgh. Selected at #19, arranger, composer and pianist…Pittsburgh legend, Mr. Billy Strayhorn.

Click below to see the full list…

 An original manuscript of “Take the A Train,” compositional sketches that were never completed and a revealing look at the royalty earnings of one of the 20th century’s most revered composers: These are a few of the 18,000 documents collected in Billy Strayhorn’s personal archive, which is now available to the public at the Library of Congress.

The library announced its acquisition of the papers on Thursday. Researchers must go in person to access the collection, the Billy Strayhorn Musical Manuscripts and Estate Papers, which have not been digitized, but the library has created a digital finding aid.

Many of the materials in the collection come from Strayhorn’s 25-year run as a member of Duke Ellington’s organization, where he was the bandleader’s closest collaborator and co-composer. But it also includes materials from Strayhorn’s youth — including an original handwritten manuscript of “Fantastic Rhythm,” the full-length musical he wrote while still in high school, and of “Something to Live For,” a now-classic piece composed before his years with Ellington — and from side projects throughout his life.

“One of the big messages of this archive is how distinct and unique and original a musical voice Strayhorn was,” said David Hajdu the author of “Lush Life,” a landmark Strayhorn biography. “It’s a testament not only to the depth of his contribution to the world of Duke Ellington, but a testament to the breadth of his work away from Ellington and apart from Ellington,” he said. “This archive is staggering.”

The fascinating story of how creative cooperation inspired two of the world’s most celebrated musical acts.

The Beatles and Duke Ellington’s Orchestra stand as the two greatest examples of collaboration in music history. Ellington’s forte was not melody—his key partners were not lyricists but his fellow musicians. His strength was in arranging, in elevating the role of a featured soloist, in selecting titles: in packaging compositions. He was also very good at taking credit when the credit wasn’t solely his, as in the case of Mood Indigo, though he was ultimately responsible for the orchestration of what Duke University musicologist Thomas Brothers calls “one of his finest achievements.”

Through his fascinating examination of these two musical legends, Brothers delivers a portrait of the creative process at work, demonstrating that the cooperative method at the foundation of these two artist-groups was the primary reason for their unmatched musical success. While clarifying the historical record of who wrote what, with whom, and how, Brothers brings the past to life with a lifetime of musical knowledge that reverberates through every page, and analyses of songs from Lennon and McCartney’s Strawberry Fields Forever to Billy Strayhorn’s Chelsea Bridge. “The only people who worked as closely as Lennon and McCartney, were those 2 people at the bottom of the (book) cover-Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn”, Brothers said.


The unfinished track has been an object of fascination. It has been written about in several Sinatra biographies. But Sinatra’s record label and estate never saw fit to release it to the public… until now! Variety has the exclusive world premiere of the 1958 studio session recording of Sinatra’s attempt at ‘Lush Life’. This is in advance of its inclusion on Capitol Records anniversary deluxe reissue edition of  Sinatra’s “…Sings for Only the Lonely”, due out October 19th, 2018. Many people consider the 1958 album the finest of his career. CLICK THE LINK BELOW to hear the rest of the story…

Hear Frank Sinatra’s Unfinished ‘Lush Life,’ Finally Released After 60 Years (EXCLUSIVE)

Suite Life is an annual celebration of the life and legacy of pianist, composer and KST namesake Billy Strayhorn. For one night only, percussionist extraordinaire and Pittsburgh jazz icon, Roger Humphries and the RH Factor take the audience on a musical exploration that invokes Pittsburgh’s rich contribution to the history of jazz.

The concert is preceded by a VIP reception, and proceeds benefit the Strayhorn Legacy Fund, which supports youth and family programming at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre.

DATE: November 24th     TIME: 8pm- 11pm     VIP RECEPTION: 6pm     TICKET PRICES: $5 to $35

LOCATION: Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, 5921 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh-PA, 15206

Composer-arranger Billy Strayhorn lived his life as an openly gay man during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, an oppressive and homophobic era. ‘Halfway To Dawn’, a music and dance performance, recognizes the life of Strayhorn, who mostly shied away from the jazz spotlight and remains an under appreciated and acknowledged composer.

‘Halfway To Dawn’ will world premiere in Los Angeles from October 4th to the 7th at the REDCAT theatre. The tour will then travel the country and conclude in Minneapolis April 13th, 2019. Tickets are $12-$30.

Written, directed and choreographed by David Rousseve, the production combines dance and video imagery. Text describing Strayhorn’s life and historical footage give the production context while projected abstract video art expresses the emotional layers of Strayhorn’s journey.

The Billy Strayhorn Foundation (BSF) has given out $3,000 so far in 2018 to assist students and institutions with tuition, summer camp attendance and jazz studies program assistance. The Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award has assisted over 20 young musicians in the past 10 years and continues to grow.

Congratulations to both our individual and school music program recipients!

**Booker T. Washington School for the Visual and Performing Arts- Dallas, Texas
**Micah Graves (piano)- Boyer College of Music and Dance- Temple University
**Geraldo Marshall (trumpet)-Eastman School of Music- University of Rochester
**Bailey Johnstone (bass)- Nashville Jazz Workshop
**Ben Rubie (violin)- Litchfield Jazz Camp- Connecticut
**Andres Aybar (bass)-Litchfield Jazz Camp- Connecticut